Posted by: L | August 14, 2007

The New Republic on the Talmud and Jesus…

“In contrast to this official Christian version of the circumstances of Jesus’s conception and birth, the Babylonian Talmud presents, in Schäfer’s words, “a highly ambitious and devastating counternarrative to the infant story of the New Testament.” In the rabbinical text that Schäfer selects to illustrate this point, it is stated that “his mother was Miriam [Mary]…. This is as they say about her in Pumbeditha: This one turned away from (was unfaithful to) her husband.” This being assumed, the Talmud identifies Mary’s lover and Jesus’s real father to be a man named Pandera–clearly a Roman name. In this account (which had an enormous impact upon some medieval Jewish polemical writings), Mary’s lover and Jesus’s true father is not only not his mother’s lawful husband, he is also a gentile–indeed, a hated Roman. From this Schäfer infers that “if the Bavli takes it for granted that [Jesus’s] mother was an adulteress, then the logical conclusion follows that he was a mamzer, a bastard or illegitimate child.” In this view, Jesus is as far from being the son of God and a pure virgin as is possible in Jewish imagination.

It is no wonder that this text is “only preserved in the uncensored manuscripts and printed editions of the Bavli.” Those were the versions of the Talmud published at times and in places where Christians had great political power over Jews and were using it harshly against them. It is thus easy to see why the Jews would want to emend such an inflammatory text, in the interests of security and self-preservation–and why the Christians would make the Jews emend such a text so that their Jewish underlings would be unable to use it to buttress their anti-Christianity. No doubt, many pro-Jewish Christians and many pro-Christian Jews today would like to forget that such a text ever existed in its original form.

But why did the Babylonian Jews go to the trouble of denying the veracity of a text that mattered only to a small Christian community that had no power over Jews (no power of the sort that Palestinian Christians came to enjoy once Christians became members of the official religion of the Roman Empire)? Schäfer gives two answers to this question. Unlike his analysis of the literary evidence, where he has some important data at his disposal, the causal explanation involves much more speculation on his part. Yet Schäfer is not a hasty or arrogant historian; he says only what he believes the evidence entitles him to say. Would that more historians were as modest.

Schäfer’s first answer to the question is psychological and political; more precisely, it concerns the influence of the political environment upon psychological motivation. In his view, the Jews of Babylonia could say about Christianity, in the person of Jesus, what their Palestinian brethren could not say because of the dangers involved. Schäfer calls the Babylonian declaration “a proud and self- confident message,” one quite different from the “defense mechanisms” that the Palestinian rabbis had to employ in their political prudence. It was a “proud proclamation” of “a new and self-confident Diaspora community.”

Schäfer’s second answer to this question is more concretely political. Here he notes that in the Persian Empire, both Judaism and Christianity were minority religions–islands of monotheism in a sea of Zoroastrian dualism (which affirmed a good god in conflict with a bad god, as opposed to the one good God affirmed by Judaism and Christianity). The two monotheistic religions were highly suspect in the eyes of the polytheistic Zoroastrian Persian or Sasanian rulers. Indeed, older polemics of Roman pagans against Jews and Christians castigated them both for their monotheism. From these political facts, Schäfer speculates that the anti-Christian polemics of the Jews might be part of “a very vivid and fierce conflict between two competing religions’ under the suspicious eye of the Sasanian authorities.”

Yet the Christians, however weak they were in the Persian Empire, no doubt had contacts with, and loyalties to, their far more numerous and more powerful brethren in the Roman Empire, and so it is plausible to suggest that the Persian authorities would have regarded Christians to be more of a political threat than their religious rivals, the Jews. Schäfer thinks that Babylonian Jewish putdowns of Jesus might have been a way of diverting official Persian suspicion away from themselves and their religion toward Christians and their religion. In other words, the anti-Christianity of the Bavli was a way for the Babylonian Jews to curry favor with their Persian overlords by castigating a “negative other.” And here Schäfer ends his fascinating book.

Peter Schäfer’s historical research and textual interpretation have implications, obviously, beyond the academy. This is a subject that profoundly affects Christian and Jewish self-understandings and mutual understandings. I can see three possible ramifications of Schäfer’s extraordinary scholarship in the context of the current Jewish-Christian relationship today.

First, at the most troubling level, Schäfer’s work might encourage those Jews who would be happy to learn that there were times when Jews were able to “get even” with their Christian enemies: a kind of schadenfreude. In this way Schäfer’s work might hinder the emergence of a more positive Jewish-Christian relationship. (Not that he is guided by such an anxiety in his scholarship, of course.) Such people could use his work to encourage Jews to speak similarly again, now that Christians are much weaker than they have been in the past. But it is naïve to think that self-respecting Christians will simply sit back and not answer their Jewish critics in kind, which would easily revive all the old animosity against Jews and Judaism. Taken this way, Schäfer’s work could also encourage Christian “hard-liners” to insist again that an animosity to Christians and Christianity is ubiquitous in Judaism and endemic to it, and that it cannot be overcome by the Jews. Why should Christians be any better when speaking of Jews and Judaism than Jews have been when speaking of Christians and Christianity?

Second, Schäfer’s work might embarrass those Jews who like to dwell on the tradition of Christian anti-Judaism in all its ugly rhetoric, and imply that the Jews have largely kept themselves above any such ugliness. For Schäfer demonstrates just the opposite. One might even speculate that had Jews gained the same kind of political power over Christians that Christians gained over Jews, Jews might well have translated their polemical rhetoric against Christianity (which, after all, posed a tremendous threat to the legitimacy of Judaism) into the political persecution of Christians, much the same way that Christians translated their polemical rhetoric against Judaism into the political persecution of Jews. Victimization does not confer sainthood. The Jews lacked the opportunity, but perhaps not the motive or the will, to practice the type of intolerance that they experienced at the hands of the Christians.

Lastly, Schäfer’s very original scholarship in the area of Jewish-Christian relations might have the effect of ending at last the “guilt trip” that some Jews have laid on Christians, according to which theological contempt and religious intolerance is a uniquely Christian problem. (It is worth noting, of course, that in our own day militant Islam makes Christian anti-Judaism a less important threat to Jews.) Jews of this mind also want a positive relationship with Christians. Yet the fact is that, at least on the level of ideas, Jews and Christians have a similar problem with the notions about each other that emerge from their respective traditions. So at a time when both religions lack the power to hurt each other politically, there remains only the arena of ideas in which to build a new and better relationship or to destroy it. For this reason, this arena should be cultivated, and protected, and allowed to grow freely and honestly….”

More at the New Republic by David Novak on Jesus in the Talmud, by Peter Schäfer, Director of the program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University.

Comment:

My quest for the historical Jesus ended a long time ago, as it did for many people, with Albert Schweitzer’s magisterial work of that name.

Generosity toward other traditions, respectful criticism of our own, and faith in the human ability to think critically — with just a little of that, the different faiths  – and lack of faith — can learn to live together not only peacefully, but fruitfully…..

It’s less a matter of scholarship than of a will to peace. Too bad that peacemakers are always as much in short supply as pundits are in excess….

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WASHINGTON – Karl Rove, President Bush‘s close friend and chief political strategist, announced Monday he will leave the White House at the end of August, joining a lengthening line of senior officials heading for the exits in the final 1 1/2 years of the administration.

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“Karl Rove is moving on down the road,” Bush said, appearing grim-faced on the White House‘s South Lawn with Rove at his side….”

More at Yahoo News.

Posted by: L | August 11, 2007

Financial flings: No Fannie bail-out

Fox‘s Cavuto Report, Saturday morning, on the late news from Friday — no bail out of homeowners by Fannie Mae.

As usual, critics are muddying this with all sorts of irrelevant criteria — i.e. corporate tax cuts. Not that I think anyone should be cutting taxes for anyone — since we are weighed down with debt. But I don’t know the details about that issue — only that it is irrelevant to the bailout question unless you like class warfare in principle and think taxcutting is the same thing as debt forgiveness. It’s not. But don’t hold your breath for actual thinking. The demagogues will jump out on both sides.

A bunch of people (middle and upperclass for the most part, many quite young), acting in groups, who speculated in second homes leveraged to the hilt and bought on spec to flip, who were so greedy they couldn’t quit doing it when every paper in the country was screaming bubble, are now crying, ‘cos, hey, their Miami condo bought with no money down and a 50 year mortgage which they hoped would triple in value before the builders had finished, is not selling like they hoped it would.

Tough. Go get some real work.

On the other hand, I didn’t notice any weeping for the past two decades for people who scrimped and saved on small salaries, who owned no plastic and stuck their savings in the bank, hoping to be free some day to do the things they loved — only to find that thanks to money creation and almost nothing in interest, while the rest of the country lived high on the hog on faux (borrowed) money and speculation, their real savings had eroded steadily. That theft from the work-and-save classes by the borrow- and- don’t-pay- back classes (runs the gamut of the rich, the middleclass, the poor, banks, corporations and the government) is the real financial crime of the past decade…

Still, I agree, there were a lot of naive and ignorant people (e.g. single mothers without the time to follow the news) who panicked because they thought they were going to be priced out of the market and were scared into buying by unethical sellers and bankers.

I feel for them.

Caveat emptor doesn’t mean that you can’t hold people to professional standards of ethics.

But a government bail out with taxpayer money by Fannie isn’t the solution. That would be penalizing good decision-makers for bad decision making and rotten ethics on the part of subprime lenders. This may be framed in public as a bailout out of pitiful poor homeowners…. but.the reality is that bailing out the mortgage holders is simply a way of bailing out the banks which loaned the money. And created mortgage-backed securities, then sliced, diced and repackaged them with the risk so separated from the reward that no one had any idea what the derived securities really represented. These MBSs were then spread out from Hong Kong to San Francisco in bonds held by mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds..you name it…..and they were given mighty high falutin’ ratings by the rating companies — Triple A, in fact.

Now, the Triple A turns out to have been junk a la Michael Milkin….

So, the bail out of the mortgage holders ultimately ends up being a bail out of guess who?

Banks and hedge funds…..who certainly knew better.

Sounds to me like a rerun of the bail out of investors in the Mexican crisis…or the bail out of bond holders in Russia….or the bail out of banks in the Asian crisis….or….it goes on and on..

My view: Bring out the lawyers. Encourage people who were actually snookered to join class-action suits against the exact institutions responsible (no socializing of the costs of this speculation spree via Fanny, please).

A bunch of institutions broke long-standing professional standards to turn into loan sharks. A little surgery to put risk and reward back together is in order. So, penalize the banks, brokers, newspapers, government officials and middlemen who cheered this on knowingly.

They’re crooks.

If the borrowers did wrong themselves, i.e. lied on their loan documents, though, they really should have known better. They’re crooks, too, petty crooks.

Sorry – you can’t blame that on naivety or Ben Bernanke.

And then, let’s get a public hearing about money creation at the Federal Reserve, and just how the Fed Reserve, Treasury, and the big banks work together.. …

Little crooks and bigger crooks — let them all go down together.

Posted by: L | August 11, 2007

Ron Paul: Slander from the left of them….

I love Bill Blum’s work, so I was sorely disappointed to find this in his latest anti-Empire report (please read it, since it also has some exquisite tidbits on the imperial mindset that pervades the current crop of jacks-in- office…)

“Libertarians: an eccentric blend of anarchy and runaway capitalism


What is it about libertarians? Their philosophy, in theory and in practice, seems to amount to little more than: “If the government is doing it, it’s oppressive and we’re against it.”

LR: Bill, that seems to be your way of looking at it. No one who has actually read Mises, or Rothbard, or Hayek would see it that way.

BB: Corporations, however, tend to get free passes.

LR: From Murray Rothbard onward, true libertarians have been criticizing corporate boondoggles far more than many liberals I know. And talking about income differentials. Don’t confuse some brands of libertarianism with the whole of it, or I will start tarring all socialists as Stalinists and Maoists, hmmmm?

BB: Perhaps the most prominent libertarian today is Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who ran as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 1988 and is running now for the same office as a Republican. He’s against the war in Iraq, in no uncertain terms, but if the war were officially being fought by, for, and in the name of a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Bechtel, and some other giant American corporations, would he have the same attitude?

LR: Oh, right…this is an argument? Suppose, I said the same about the left: If the war was for “the people” — then you would be fine with mounds of dead bodies? Isn’t that putting words in your opponent’s mouth? Where has Ron Paul supported wars for corporations? In fact, right now he opposes the war, because he thinks it was fought for corporations, which use the state as their tool. That is precisely the libertarian position about the corporatocracy and the corporate state.

In fact, the antiwar position is absolutely central to libertarian thinking, because for libertarians, it is the war economy that legitimates the command economy. Anyone who doesn’t know that simply hasn’t read any serious libertarian theorists. Or is confusing the prowar positions of some libertarian writers at magazines like Reason (others at Reason disgreed) with authentic libertarianism. I suppose I could confuse the prowar position of the Washington Post with the left-liberal position too.

Here is Rothbard about the the 1991 Gulf War:

“Bechtel, the Rockefellers, and the Saudi royal family have long had an intimate connection. After the Saudis granted the Rockefeller-dominated Aramco oil consortium the monopoly of oil in Saudi Arabia, the Rockefellers brought their pals at Bechtel in on the construction contracts. The Bechtel Corporation, of course, has also contributed George Shultz and Cap Weinberger to high office in Republican administrations. To complete the circle, KA director Simon’s former boss Suliman Olayan was, in 1988, the largest shareholder in the Chase Manhattan Bank after David Rockefeller himself.

The pattern is clear. An old New Left slogan held that “you don’t need a weatherman to tell you how the wind is blowing.” In the same way, you don’t need to be a “conspiracy theorist” to see what’s going on here. All you have to do is be willing to use your eyes….” (Why the War? Lew Rockwell, 1991).

Here is a piece on Rothbard’s belief that right libertarians were historically, left of the current left (See, Wally Conger, “Why Not Reclaim the Left, Strike the Root, 2002).

Ron Paul has been the one voice of sanity about the Federal Reserve’s reckless creation of credit which is the real reason for the season of mad money lending we’ve just survived and which is now on the verge of tearing apart the economic fabric. That, dear Mr. Blum, is not the fault of “capitalism,” any more than a gold-digging trophy wife is an indictment of marriage as an institution. It is central bank induced financialization by a transnational oligarchy.

Please. Like too many on the left, Mr. Blum’s opinion about what the right thinks or doesn’t think is drawn from hearsay and innuendo, by other leftists.

BB: And one could of course argue that the war is indeed being fought for such a consortium. So is it simply the idea or the image of “a government operation” that bothers him and other libertarians?

LR: Where does Paul say that?

BB: Paul recently said: “The government is too bureaucratic, it spends too much money, they waste the money.”[9]

Does the man think that corporations are not bureaucratic? Do libertarians think that any large institution is not overbearingly bureaucratic? Is it not the nature of the beast? Who amongst us has not had the frustrating experience with a corporation trying to correct an erroneous billing or trying to get a faulty product repaired or replaced? Can not a case be made that corporations spend too much (of our) money? What do libertarians think of the exceedingly obscene salaries paid to corporate executives? Or of two dozen varieties of corporate theft and corruption? Did someone mention Enron?

LR: I did. (here’s a piece I did on Enron: “Malcolm Gladwell Checks in at the Hotel Kenneth Lay-a” — the leftist magazine I first sent it to didn’t publish it — would ruin their monopoly of the moral outrage factor, maybe?).

Murray Rothbard never stopped talking about corporate bail outs. I differ from him on some of his positions, quite strongly, but nowhere does he support the use of fraud, force or war in support of enterprise.

Neither do most genuine ethical libertarians.

But no corporation can raise a standing army or tax citizens or enjoy the legitimacy of a state. And some of us (a good number of right libertarians) think that corporations would not reach the size they do, without the state granting licences and privileges.

Gabriel Kolko argues for that as well.

BB: Ron Paul and other libertarians are against social security. Do they believe that it’s better for elderly people to live in a homeless shelter than to be dependent on government “handouts”? That’s exactly what it would come down to with many senior citizens if not for their social security.

LR: Typical false alternative. The alternative to social security is not homeless shelters. Look what a low opinion of people the left really has. According to them, people are blind, deaf and dumb; they can’t save, they can’t plan…they can’t do anything without the commissariat of soviets to do it for them. Bollocks. Without government interference, people could sit down and figure out what they really needed, instead of being forced to pay for a bunch of boondoggles. Half the waste would disappear; costs of insurances would decline sharply; variety and flexibility would increase; all the various leeches and parasites on the system (many of them middle and upper class….don’t let that tired class rhetoric about the aged poor scare you) would fade away. Scaled back and scaled down, we would get back to the scale of the human.

BB:

Most libertarians I’m sure are not racists, but Paul certainly sounds like one. Here are a couple of comments from his newsletter:

“Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action.”

“Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the ‘criminal justice system,’ I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”[10]

LR: Paul had an opinion based on some mistaken statistics being circulated then. It was a misguided opinion. A dumb over generalization. It wasn’t fundamentally racist but crude and insensitive. And he made a sweeping statement about the opinions he thought black people hold about economics. Asians make such generalizations all the time too, about whites and blacks. ..and other Asians (or to be fair, I should say browns or yellows or yellow-browns, maybe). Bill Blum just made one about libertarians that was all wrong. So do all groups — whether they are prepared to say so in public is another thing. Nor do I want to live in a society which demonizes people for saying such things. Let him apologize and move on.
By the way, some of the most racist attitudes I encountered in this country were not from the right. But from the left – which continues to feel that its model is the only one that serves minorities and people from the third world, in general. And demonizes anyone who falls out of step. (Not, mind you, that paternalism or even feelings of superiority expressed by other groups bothers me much….if an ideas strikes me as right, I will take it, regardless of who holds it and whatever their attitude to me might be. Racism is secondary to mass murder and does not necessarily lead to it, either, contrary to what some people seem to think).

BB: Author Ellen Willis has written that “the fundamental fallacy of right libertarianism is that the state is the only source of coercive power.” They don’t recognize “that the corporations that control most economic resources, and therefore most people’s access to the necessities of life, have far more power than government to dictate our behavior and the day-to-day terms of our existence.”

LR (sigh):

And there are no socialists who are not unreconstructed Maoists? But does that make me confuse democratic socialists in the US with the Great Leap Forward? Please.

We expect better from our socialist friends.

There ARE many libertarians who fail to apply their critical skills to corporations and fail to see that they don’t embody free enterprise. They should start to do it in no uncertain terms.

But they should do it in libertarian terms and not in the tired, dead-end rhetoric of socialism and the left-right divide.

Libertarians should attack corporations for what they criticise governments for — bureaucracy and anti-individualism. And the left should start reigning in their knee-jerk thought-police for the very thing they attack the right for — intolerance.

Like it or not, the revolution in thinking is from the right, this time.

It has been for some time. Only it got high-jacked by a bunch of neoconservatives — who were actually ex-leftists in drag.

But the real right is awake at last.

So now, move over, Trotsky.

(PS – I wrote this in a tearing hurry before breakfast — and am going to be getting back to it to update and add links and BEG my libertarian friends out there to send me links to as many libertarian writers (and Ron Paul too) that can lay these canards to rest).

Defend your honor, as they say, or people will think you have none…

Posted by: L | August 10, 2007

Alice Walker on activism…

“Activism is my rent for living on this planet” –

Alice Walker

Posted by: L | August 10, 2007

Mind-in-Body: The ugliest part of your body..

Reviewing Shaun Gallagher’s How the Body Shapes the Mind, Oxford University Press:

What’s the ugliest
Part of your body?
What’s the ugliest
Part of your body?
Some say your nose
Some say your toes
But I think it’s your MIND…
I think it’s your mind

Leslie Marsh at manwithoutqualities.com, with some ruminations on the nature of embodiment (that is, consciousness as rooted in your body and not a free floating ghost in your head):

“Embodiment, a well entrenched paradigm within computer science and artificial intelligence circles, challenges the notion of the body as merely an antenna-like device, a receptacle for somatosensory and sensorimotor input..”

and again,

“One’s sense of location is not simply a function of our beliefs about the location of our body: it is the two-way cybernetic looping between brain, body, and world that matters. Knowledge includes knowledge of the constraints and possibilities of the human body’s interaction with the world, a notion that chimes very nicely with Arthur Glenberg’s research (not cited by Gallagher) at the Laboratory for Embodied Cognition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In a nutshell, Glenberg suggests that an ability to understand sentences seems to incorporate an agent’s knowledge about how its body might interact with objects in its environment. Gallagher does pose some profoundly intriguing questions concerning the relationship between embodiment and language. Returning to the case of “IW” Gallagher observes that “the self-organizing intentionality of language, including gesture, remains intact” because gesticulatory language is not dependent upon body schemas (p. 126).”

Comment:

Will be back to cud-chew this as much as it deserves…..but meanwhile,

Beheaded rattlesnake sends man to hospital, according to AP:

“Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.
“When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.”

The same danger probably attends any kind of head severed from its body…..

Thus this blog and this post…
Comment:

Getting back to Marsh and Gallagher. ‘IW” in the post is the name of a patient with a pathology of the sensory nerves. Those are the afferent nerves – the incoming ones that give you sensations of your limbs. IW’s problem is the damage this pathology has done to the feedback mechanisms needed for him to control his muscles and posture (functions included in the technical terms, proprioception and kinaesthesia).

What Gallagher found (if I have understood this right) was that IW had – as a compensation – developed a certain conscious monitoring of his skills. In normal people, that monitoring would simply have been in the background, not conscious, not part of his image of his body (not BI, body image). Instead, the monitoring would have been part of the pre-conscious “skill” or “capacity” of the body.

IW’s case suggests that people’s normal monitoring of their limbs is shaped by such pre-existing skills or capacities (what Gallagher called BS, or body scheme). BS is thus (at least, partly) innate. It’s prior to a person’s conscious idea of his body (BI) and doesn’t need BI to exist.

To explain that a bit more, Gallagher takes the example of people without limbs who still display persistent sensations of having those limbs in their brain activity – a phenomenon called aplasic phantoms. Where do these patients get these sensations from? Obviously not from the nerves in their limbs – since they don’t have any. So the sensation (of the limbs) must exist not in the physical appendage but in the nerve activity – as an embodied thought. That means that the sensations of the limbs are not simply stuck in the cranium like something tucked away in an attic but are distributed all over the whole body in the network of nerves.

There are interesting conclusions to be drawn from that. Once this limbless patient got a prosthetic, for instance, he or she would only have acquired a physical, tangible mechanism which would have to catch up with and fit into the awaiting body scheme (BS) which already had the necessary skills and sensations contained in it. In other words, the Body Scheme, with its pre-existing, taken-for-granted skills, exists apart from the actual limb.

So, what do these fascinating but arcane matters mean for practical politics? A lot.

One implication is that when you use sentences, for example, the likelihood is those sentences take the shape and structure they do because of the way you are situated in the world, the way you interact with it and see it. So the ideas that come out of your sentences are likewise “situated.” They can’t be uprooted and taken out of their human context.

(Update: Rereading the review, though, I see this sentence, which seems to contradict my assertion:

“the self-organizing intentionality of language, including gesture, remains intact” because gesticulatory language is not dependent upon body schemas.”
— so I await correction on this)

That should make us very suspicious of understanding concepts outside the exact historical and practical place in which they arise, for one thing. It should make us hostile toward using logic or theory in some kind of ahistoric, untextured, abstract way…..

Another inference. We might be wise to approach libertarianism not as an ideology about liberty – as people generally do — but as a pragmatic employment in particular historical situations of a libertarian way of “going on.” Which would be defined more as a how of things….more than a what. This attention to the process rather than ends would be what is generally called liberalism.

But liberalism is usually associated with a greater degree of state involvement than what is usually associated with libertarianism. Which is why I part company with it. It seems to me that liberals — so-called in politics today — are actually aligned with politics that are socialist and no where near liberal or libertarian positions. On the other hand, I would say that Paul’s constitutionalism, while not strictly libertarian, would be close it. I would suggest that democratic politics in a large state cannot by its nature be libertarian – or even liberal in the common usage. More on that in another post).

What more can we draw out from this research?
Attention to procedure, rather than to substantive ends…

Making the process fairer — rather than reaching for a predetermined fair goal.

Making things less political and more ethical, maybe…

Not sure if I am clear here or simply babbling….. But it’s 9 pM and I am beginning to lose touch with my embodied existence…

“In the late 19th century the coast of Angola was home to a flourishing export market that shipped African goods to Europe. On the one side of this market were European settlers who operated the export industry, and on the other side were African producers in the remote interior who harvested the goods required for export. Connecting these two groups were African middlemen who traveled to the interior to collect the goods and then carried them to the coast for export.In the 19th century this region was for all intents and purposes anarchic. Although Europeans had settlements with European laws and interior African communities had their own, largely informal institutions of internal governance, there was no government to oversee the interactions between members of these groups or their interactions with the middlemen. The problem this created was that middlemen tended to be substantially stronger than interior producers, posing the threat of force described above. Why pay producers for goods if middlemen could use their superior strength to simply steal them instead?

Like with the pirates, instead of throwing in the towel and either accepting that they would be routinely plundered or stopping productive activities altogether, so that there would be nothing for middlemen to steal, African producers devised an institutional solution to the problem of force that allowed them to realize the benefits of trade with these bandits.

The institution they devised for this purpose was credit. The key to understanding how credit solved the problem of force and facilitated peaceful exchange is straightforward: you can’t steal goods that aren’t yet produced, but you can trade with them.

Here’s how the credit institution worked: Producers would not produce anything today but would instead wait for middlemen to arrive in their villages looking for goods to plunder. With nothing available to steal the middlemen had two options: return to the coast empty-handed after having made a trip to the interior, or make an agreement with producers to supply the goods they required on the basis of credit. In light of the costliness of their trip to the interior, middlemen frequently chose the latter

According to their credit arrangements, middlemen advanced payment to producers and agreed to return later to collect the goods they were owed. When they returned for this purpose all that was available for taking was what they were owed, so stealing was not an option. Instead, middlemen frequently renewed the credit agreement, which initiated a subsequent round of credit-based trade, and so on.

This simple arrangement performed two critical functions in allowing producers to overcome the threat of force that middlemen presented. First, it enabled them to avoid being plundered, as though they had not produced anything at all, but also to realize the gains from trade, as though middlemen did not pose a threat of violence. Second, it transformed producers in the eyes of middlemen from targets of banditry into valuable assets they had an interest in protecting. If middlemen wanted to be repaid they needed to ensure that their debtors remained alive and well enough to produce. This meant abstaining from violence against producers and protecting producers against the predation of others.”

More by Peter Leeson at Cato Unbound via Strike the Root.

My Comment:

This fascinating scenario answers one of the most common objections to libertarianism. That there would be no way by which a weaker group could protect itself from a stronger group intent on plundering it.
It demonstrates that people are capable of ingenious solutions to disparities in power on their own, if a huge state machinery does not get in the way.

I am going to file this away along with the earlier Rothbard post on Ireland in a new section which will contain vignettes of real world example of libertarian living. A picture being worth a thousand words usually. And one from history worth ten thousand.

Update: I found an interesting response from Dani Rodrik, “The Limits of Self-Enforcing Agreeements,”also at Cato Unbound,which I am linking here. I actually reference Rodrik’s work in my new book with Bill Bonner, in chapter 3, in a rather lighthearted way in wondering how much democracy is really correlated with economic success.

“The problem with self-enforcing agreements is that they do not scale up. One of the findings from Elinor Ostrom’s extensive case studies is that self-enforcing arrangements to manage the “commons” work well only when the geographic scope of the activity is clearly delimited and membership is fixed. It is easy to understand why. Cooperation under “anarchy” is based on reciprocity, which in turn requires observability. I need to be able to observe whether you are behaving according to the rules, and if not, I have to be able to sanction you. When the size of the in-group becomes large and mobility allows opportunistic behavior to go unpunished, it becomes difficult to maintain cooperation. Imagine that the pirates numbered in the millions and they could easily jump ship to join competing groups mid-voyage; would the arrangements Leeson describes have been sustainable?

Unlike in pirate societies or pre-colonial Angola, modern economies require an elaborate and ever-evolving division of labor—among owners of firms, managers, and their employees, among producers up and down the value chain, and between producers and providers of supporting services such as finance, accounting, and legal services. The complexity, fluidity, and geographic non-specificity of these activities leave too much room for opportunistic behavior for self-enforcing arrangements to work well. They require an external backstop in the form of government-enforced rules.”

Comment:

Just off the bat, it seems there are some problems with Rodrik’s argument. The first is that there is a mechanism for the complexity of economic variables to self adjust — it’s called pricing. Secondly, the need for rules does not necessarily entail a bureaucratic central government, such as we typically find today. Possible substitutes are many — local bodies that are loosely federated, non-government lawmaking bodies, canon law (for communities so disposed)…there are lots of possibilities, once we get out of our self-created rut of thinking in terms of leviathan..

Here’s my own take on Somalia and lots of related peeves of mine…from advertising to government hacks…in a piece, “Minding the Crowd,” Dissident Voice, 2006:

Anarchists will argue, of course, that you don’t need a government to do that. Private groups are perfectly able to provide security, defense and infrastructure. We won’t argue with them. We don’t believe we know enough of the matter one way or other. But one thing we do know is that both the anarchists and the statists are confused when they talk. They say state when they mean government, and they say government when they mean the rule of law. They confuse anarchy with chaos, and the absence of the state with the absence of law.

Somalia is stateless, but it is not entirely without laws; there is anarchy, but there is not yet complete chaos. Somalia may be an example of how spontaneous order can take root even when the state collapses.

The Law of the Somalis, written by Michael van Notten, goes to the heart of the matter. Van Notten, is a Dutch lawyer who married into a Somali clan and lived in the country for the last decade or so of his life. [9]

Van Notten points out what the BBC does not want to notice. Somalia might lack a state, but it’s not completely without government. The country still relies on traditional Somali customary law, which, he points out, would not be able to work if a central government and western style democracy were imposed on top of it. Somalia’s free market is not operating in suspended animation, or in a vacuum. It rests — in a precarious, wobbly way, it is true — on the traditional law of the Somalis. And it does have a government — even if it is only the government of the Somali clans.

Somali customary law and clan government follow natural law closely. And whatever fragments of a genuine free market operate there do so only because of the norms of behavior springing from this indigenous system.

Van Notten makes another interesting point. He suggests that the terrible problems plaguing Somalia don’t arise from the free market or the lack of central government at all. Instead they are the result of the constant attempts to impose government, albeit unsuccessfully.

“A democratic government has every power to exert dominion over people. To fend off the possibility of being dominated, each clan tries to capture the power of that government before it can become a threat.” [10]

And the fear of domination is only kept alive by incessant U.N. efforts to intervene and impose a Western style government in the country. Leave the clans alone, he says. Let foreign governments just deal with them.

The irony is, a real free market is not free at all. It is, and always has been, restricted: by laws, customs, traditions, morals, expectations. In Somalia or the West, you have to choose. It is either natural law or the law of the jungle……”

 


Posted by: L | August 7, 2007

Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell: Paul beyond price

LAWYER: The fact remains that Ron Paul is now a real world candidate for president, and you guys are playing with fire every time you publish a positive article about him.

Sure, you might win the argument that you are not political, but you have some powerful enemies, the pro-war crowd, for example. They would love to destroy you, and if they can use the levers of power against you, they will.

And by the way, given the way you are legally structured now, you also can’t run articles or blogs that are critical of other candidates. No going after Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain.

So here are your choices as I measure them: You can stop publishing articles and blogs on Ron Paul and other candidates (and cross your fingers), or you can shut down LRC immediately. Total closure is what I recommend, and right now.

BLUMERT: Abandon Ron Paul? Never.

Close down LRC? You might as well cut off Lew Rockwell’s fingers.

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear either of your suggestions.

Look, LRC is too important to silence. It has become the most significant libertarian website in the world. Literally thousands of people, from all over the world, have told me that LRC has been key to their intellectual development, and a source of sanity in this Age of the Neocon.

Of course, we also get hatemail; we’re “anti-Semites” for opposing endless Mideast wars; we’re “traitors” for resisting the omnipotent executive; we’re “pro-terrorist” for fighting the police state; we’re “mean-spirited” for supporting the free market; we’re “conspiracy nuts” for criticizing the Federal Reserve; and we’re “anti-American” for working against the empire.

But even our enemies can’t stay away; vast numbers of people visit the site every day, to learn, to cheer, or to boo, because this is where it’s happening – for everyone dedicated (or opposed) to freedom and peace.

As to Ron Paul, we have some history here. In 1988 I was chairman of Ron’s first presidential campaign. Lew has been his friend and associate since 1975, and served as Ron’s chief of staff in Congress. We both know him very well, and, like all who know him, think the world of him, as a man of great integrity and as a leader. This is not political; it is supporting the ideas we have loved and promoted for decades.

Of course, it’s no coincidence that Ron calls LRC his favorite website. Bail on him? Never. Lew and I have worked all our lives for this moment. And we will keep working.

As Ron himself has said, “More important than the man is the message for liberty.” And after today’s debates, primaries, and elections, are over, LRC will still be spreading that message.

LAWYER: Okay, okay, Blumert, I get the message. To protect both LRC and CLS, and you and Lew, you only have one prudent course of action. You must spin LRC off from CLS. The good news: CLS will stay as it is. The not-so-good news: donations to LRC will no longer be tax-deductible, though it still can be a non-profit educational effort.

More at Lew Rockwell.

(Oh, by the way, I notice some reader — this shows up on my dashboard — rushing off to investigate (in all seriousness I am sure) “Lew Rockwell, nuts.”

Poor dear. Let me save her the trouble.
Why not try “Lew Rockwell, crazed wing nuts” or “Lew Rockwell, southern secessionist historical revisionists” (ooh – maybe that’s just a shade too close for comfort).

Of course, there’s always “Lew Rockwell, Nazi-KKK”, that  reliable war horse, or better yet, “Lew Rockwell, idealogue,” said with all the sangfroid of the determined realist convinced that mountains of dead babies in some inconvenient place off the TV screen are simply part of the calculus of peace through war — and so-oo much better than those, well, idealogues.
And, for the last time, libertarianism is NOT an ideology; it’s not an ‘ism’ at all, though it might — for want of a better word — sound like it….the whole approach is actually anti-ideological; it’s axiomatic. It’s “Hands Off.” Yes — that’s what it is. It’s we the people saying “Hands Off” in no uncertain terms to everyone who wants to “handle us.”

On July 31, 2007 Republican rep from Colorado, and presidential hopeful, Tom Tancredo, whose position on Mexican immigrants has made him the darling of nativists, urged the bombing of Mecca and Medina as a deterrent to future terrorist attacks.

Actually, his statement was not anywhere as clear as that. In the second half, the CNN report said Tancredo would bomb in retaliation for a terrorist attack on the homeland (Bushspeak for America); in the first half, that it would preemptively bomb to deter such an attack.

Then again, linguistic precision hasn’t been a noted attribute of this administration, which for the last half a decade has pretended that preemption is no more than deterrence and prevention.

Take President Bush himself:

“If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack, when the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize.”

In this piece, even before attacks materialize – whose time and place are uncertain – Bush urges self—defense, by which, naturally, he means attack.

And what would we be attack-er-defending against? Oh, that would be potential. As in, defending against potential terrorism.

Attack in self-defense to deter the potential of an uncertain terrorist attack. You get it.

Or perhaps the point is you don’t.

Of course, “potential” also remains in the eye of the beholder.
Tancredo doesn’t see much potential for terrorism, for instance, in repressive, nuke-wielding crony-capitalist gambling den, China. Oh no. The Chinese only sit on a large chunk of US treasuries and their every financial flutter turns Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve a sicklier shade of yellow as the global credit binge turns into a global hangover. But not to worry.

No, as a social conservative and Christian Right activist from a district largely constituted of middle-class and affluent Caucasian voters, Tancredo’s position on immigration and the Middle East is lit by the eerie flames of civilizational war, a la Samuel Huntington. So, naturally, he finds terrorist potential solely in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, which (whatever we might think of the objects of its financial patronage) at last count was still an ally.

Perhaps Tancredo, recognizing the potential for Allies to turn into Axis (Of Evil), is only deterring that potential. Or preventing it. Or pre-empting it. Or perhaps he recognizes the potential a run on the Bank of Mecca would have to destroy the last shred of credit America has and turn the Iraq war into an outright Crusade against a billion Muslims.

Of course, some people think that’s already what’s going on.

Bay (Pat, without the winsome charm) Buchanan, chief Tancredo Wazir, reassures us, nonetheless, that the man is “open-minded and willing to embrace other options.”

Could that mean he will be content to take out only the Ka’aba in a surgical strike and leave the rest of Mecca alone, thus reassuring Muslims the world over about the precise precision both of US weaponry and US language? Or does it mean he will just content himself with a border war with Mexican immigrants in the south?

At this point, it’s hard to figure out.

Just as hard as figuring out why the State Department is throwing a hissy fit over this anyway. [Tom Casey, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, told CNN’s Elise Labott that the congressman’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy” etc. etc.]

After all, Tancredo said about the same thing in 2005.

“If this [a nuclear attack] happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites,” he said on July 15, 2005.

And he had plenty of company among people who aren’t conservative Christians.

One right-wing journal claimed that the “nuke Mecca” threat was the only reason America had remained free of terrorist attack post 9-11 (“Intelligence expert says nuke option is reason bin Laden has been quiet,” WorldNet, January 1 2005).

Meanwhile, Robert Spencer, scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of the Jihad Watch thought it was a bad idea only because it might not have worked out:

“It is likely that a destruction of the Ka’aba or the Al-Aqsa Mosque would have the same effect: it would become [a] source of spirit, not of dispirit. The jihadists would have yet another injury to add to their litany of grievances,” he wrote in FrontPage Magazine on July 28, 2005, almost wistfully.

In fact, nuking Mecca is as popular a meme in Washington as a Paris Hilton video on YouTube.

On February 6, 2007, Don Imus said on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning – “It might be [a] good start with somebody who’s willing to take three big ones and drop one on Mecca, one on Jeddah, and one on Saudi — one on Riyadh.”

On March 2002, The National Review’s senior editor, Rich Lowry, suggested in an online forum that there was “…lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca… Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal.”

[In 2004 the city had 1,294,167 residents, according to wiki, so it’s hard to figure out what Mr. Lowry could have been thinking when he referred to “few people”. On the other hand, in the context of the ground swell of hype from the nuclear industry in recent years about “resource wars” supposedly driven by burgeoning populations east of the Suez, a million may indeed be few].

Such are the cultural and racial anxieties that Tancredo’s rhetoric plays on. Whatever the merits of his position on immigration in other respects. And it does have some.

Those resource wars were probably what the Pentagon had in mind, when three years after Lowry made his remark, it revised its 1995 nuclear strike doctrine to include enemies who were using “or intending to use WMD” against the U.S. or its allies, their forces and their civilian populations. Imminent intentions at Mecca or elsewhere would thus be preemptively deterred or defended by nuclear attack.

But besides metaphysical provocation from the swarthy and fecund, another potential provocation for a nuclear preemptive strike by the Pentagon was laid out decades earlier, in January 1975 in Commentary magazine. That was just after the Saudis had embargoed oil and sent prices soaring in the west. In response, Robert Tucker promoted the radical notion of invading Arab oil fields in a piece with the snappy title, “Oil: The Issue of American Intervention.”

Fast forward a quarter of a century, post 9-11, and get to Rand Corp. analyst Laurent Murawiec’s notorious power point presentation on July 10, 2002, to the Defense Policy Board, an influential committee of ex and current defense officials chaired by Richard Perle, Iraq-war hawk nonpareil.

After accusing the Saudis of “supporting our enemies and attacking our allies,” Murawiecz advised US officials to target Saudi Arabia’s economic assets should their rulers disobey US ultimatums that included a ban on Islamic charities and “anti-Israeli” writings.

Love us or we’ll bomb you.

Murawiecz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and Rand, adviser to the French Ministry of Defense, some -time writer for Lyndon LaRouche, and founder and managing director of the obscure and dubious consulting firm, GeoPol Corp. in Geneva, (with close ties to questionable arms dealers) laces his work with references to Saudi reproduction and fecundity (see the November 17, 2005 discussion at the Hudson Institute of his book “Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West”).

In his sensational 2002 presentation, he urged the confiscation of both oil fields in Arabia as well as Saudi assets in the US, as a first step. And as a second step, he urged that the Saudis be informed that their holy places were targets and that “alternatives are being canvassed”. His recommendation was that Muslim pilgrims just take their Hajj elsewhere and stop ruining all that oil for the civilized world, i.e. us.

A year later, Congress released its 9-11 report, with its heavily censored pages under the impressively sinister title, “Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” Naturally, that was leaked. Naturally it became unofficially known (but never officially charged) that Saudi nationals with known contacts to two of the 9-11 hijackers also received money and had contact with Saudi officials, and that the Saudis have willfully provided al-Qaeda with assistance through Muslim charities. What didn’t become unofficially known was the official view by “a host of senior intelligence and law enforcement officials” (“Saudis on the Defensive,” Gary Leupp, Counterpunch, August 8, 2003) that “there is a lot of information in there that’s inflammatory but not accurate, or inferential or open to interpretation. Some of it is based on information that is partial, fragmentary and wrong. It is certainly not conclusive.”

Despite seeing through the Bush line on immigration, Christian cultural warrior Tancredo is still a big fan of the Bush global war on terror, and especially of its Middle Eastern front on the Tigris. An ardent supporter of the defense industry in general, Tancredo, it seems, is also a convert to the Tucker-Murawiec vision of a de-Saudified Middle East.

He is also given to that favorite leisure sport of under worked DC lawmakers– regime change in Iran. There, Tancredo, a conservative Christian, supports the ultra left-wing People’s Freedom Fighters (MEK), which has been identified as a terrorist organization by the State Department and is led by the charismatic Marxist feminist, Miriam Rajavi.

Tancredo, a co-chair of the House Iran caucus, offered support to a pro-MEK rally in Washington on January 19, 2006 and wrote to the organizers, the Council for Democratic Change in Iran, “We believe a possible alternative to the current government can be achieved through supporting the people of Iran and the Iranian resistance.”

That means that Tancredo, the conservative, is allied with the most radical faction in the ongoing debate about how the U.S. effects Iranian regime change. (Note: No party to that debate suggests that perhaps Iranian regime change might not be the business of the US government).

On the surface, that’s an odd place for a self-described cultural conservative.

Since it is coincidentally also the vision of neo-conservative theorist, democratic revolutionary, connoisseur of fascist belles-lettres, and Iran Contra go-between, Michael Ledeen..

You remember him.

He’s the guy who was selling weapons to the mullahs he’s busy denouncing now. And he’s the guy who was promoting the Afghan mujahadeen — including Osama Bin Laden — back then as our chief allies against communist totalitarianism.

He was also involved with the neo-fascist Masonic lodge P2 (Propaganda Due) and a network of Italian secret service agents associated with the CIA-coordinated “stay-behind” strategy. As part of its Cold War vision, “stay-behind” members attempted to “destabilize” the Italian government in the 1980s through terrorist attacks and false flag operations blamed on socialists.

Ledeen, an avid admirer of Machiavelli, has argued that the US must be “imperious, ruthless, and relentless” against the Muslim world until there has been “total surrender.”

And more:

“We will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle.” [National Review, 12/7/2001, republished in the Jewish World Review, 12/11/2001]

Iraq just isn’t enough for Ledeen.

“We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/4/2002.

Ledeen, probably unlike Tancredo in this respect, is not a useful tool.

Keep those points in mind and consider that just yesterday, August 5, only a week after the Tancredo eruption, U.S. troops claim to have killed the al-Qaida mastermind (al Badri) behind the bombing of the golden dome of al Askariya shrine in Samarra, one of the most sacred of Shiite holy places. It was the act that set off waves of sectarian killing last year.

Actually, the mosque itself was then guarded by local police, presumably under US authority. Some describe Shia having taunted the police with slogans prior to the bombing which might have provoked the Sunni response. Or not. There’s no way of knowing now, except that now, Tancredo gets a lucky break.

The take out of al-Badri should set Muslim hearts at rest, if they don’t actually flutter for Uncle Sam again. Tancredo can stop explaining himself to CAIR and go back to his work — for regime change in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And Laurent Murawiec, polyglot scholar of cultural identity, who has analyzed how pigs affect Muslims differently from Christians and proclaimed publicly that the global war on terror is not a war on terror really, but “a war on jihad and an Islam that has, for all practical purposes, throw its lot with the jihadis,” can get back to his.

And what is Murawiec’s work? Closely connected to the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs), it turns out.

In case you didn’t know, the RMA is Donald Rumsfeld’s pet project and makes Information War (IW), including netcentric war, its center piece. Imagery is its language.
Murawiec even has a book on the subject (“Greek Rhetoric Meets Cyberspace: Toward a Theory of Information Warfare”).

This is how he describes IW in an article for the Hudson Institute (“Military Action in Cyberspace,” December 15, 2003):

“For instance, a pig may mean something different to a Muslim and a Christian. A Muslim might see an impure and accursed animal, whereas a Christian might see ham on legs or one of Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs. Effective use of visual images across cultures requires great knowledge and sophistication……..

In all these cases, IW involves creating phantom cyber-images, which can include phantasms of nonexistent trains, airplanes, stock market orders, and bank transfers; false impressions of the enemy’s troop strength and one’s own, of supplies and movements, of fake attacks and all-too-real defenses; and phantom images of the enemy’s leaders doing evil things on screen because one has video-morphed images of them doing them so.
Information warfare is not about machines or even electrons. It is about people’s minds, society’s functions, and armies’ strategies. Cyberspace endows us—and our enemies—with new and extraordinary means with which to achieve our respective aims. “We have only begun to cyber-fight.”

Indeed.

 

Tancredo: Threaten to bomb Muslim holy sites in retaliation

Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s campaign stood by his assertion that bombing holy Muslim sites would serve as a good “deterrent” to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from attacking the United States, his spokeswoman said Friday.

“This shows that we mean business,” said Bay Buchanan, a senior Tancredo adviser. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that. But he is open-minded and willing to embrace other options. This is just a means to deter them from attacking us.”

On Tuesday, Tancredo warned a group of Iowans that another terrorist attack would “cause a worldwide economic collapse.” IowaPolitics.com recorded his comments.

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”

Tom Casey, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, told CNN’s Elise Labott that the congressman’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy.” Tancredo was widely criticized in 2005 for making a similar suggestion…”

Comment: OK, Tancredo is being called on it. Irresponsible, crazy….

But guess what? He isn’t the first person to say it. Here’s Michael Ledeen, neocon guru and noted mullah-baiter:

In 2000: “[T]he defense of the country is one of those extreme situation in which a leader is justified in committing evil.”(‘Michael Ledeen, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli’s Iron Rules Are As Timely and Important Today As Five Centuries Ago (New York, NY: Random House, 2000))”

“Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.” (‘Michael Ledeen, “The War on Terror Won’t End in Baghdad,” Wall Street Journal, 4 September 2002.’)” Wall Street Journal, 9/4/2002]

So, why is Tancredo so crazy for articulating what one of the leading theorists of this government has been saying for the last 7 years in every major news outlet in this country without censure?

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